Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Honest Sharing in Orlando

Welcome to the world of "New Translation Tuesday."

I wanted to share a few thoughts about my experience at the Orlando Liturgical Conference.

I gave three presentations focused on The Roman Missal. One concerned the Missal and the RCIA (basically a presentation on liturgical catechesis for catechumens and candidates). The second focused on the Missal and music directors. The third was focused on the Missal and the assembly.

In the third presentation, I did some comparisons between the current translation and the new translation. There was a person there who said this to the group at the workshop: "I am a medieval Latin scholar and this translation is an abomination!"

What is a presenter to say? Actually, I told her that I agreed that there were places in the Missal where the translation is so awkward and stilted that comprehension seems nearly impossible. And, for those of you who follow this blog regularly, you know that I am reserving judgment about the efficacy and comprehensibility of these texts until we actually begin praying the texts at Mass.

We focused on the Collect for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Here is the current translation:
God our Father,
your light of truth
guides us to the way of Christ.
May all who follow him
reject what is contrary to the Gospel.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
      your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
      in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Two simple sentences, followed by a doxology.

Then we looked at the new translation:

O God, who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary
     to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
     in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

This is one of those texts that I have practiced over and over again. It has taken me quite a bit of time to learn where to speed up, where to slow down, what to stress, what not to stress and still, I am not sure if I can communicate the meaning of the prayer. One person at the workshop said that she felt that the people in the congregation simply would not be able to comprehend the text because of the complexity of the prayer's structure.

What we all agreed upon is what many have been saying over and over again. Priests and bishops will need to spend much more time preparing to proclaim these texts. And we in the congregation will need to be helped to learn how to become much more attentive and active listeners, unlike this crowd:

Time and experience will tell. I am hopeful but getting a bit more tense about all of this. How about you?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Chironomo said...


No offense meant to the Medieval Latin Scholar (I may, in fact, know her...), but the current Missal is not in Medieval Latin, and the methodology used to translate Medieval texts is far different from that used to translate more contemporary Latin texts. She is certainly entitled to her opinion, but her background as a Medieval Latin scholar gives that opinion no greater weight than would being a Medieval English scholar, other than perhaps a greater love for the original Latin text.

I heard great things about the conference...I unfortunately was unable to attend for the first time in many years.

Anonymous said...

No tension here! With only three months to go, I can hardly wait! After nearly 40 long years, light at the end of the tunnel! And no, it's not an oncoming train!!!

Anonymous said...

I am concerned - how many priests prepare well for their preaching let alone the new texts. Don't get me wrong, there are a number that do prepare well for preaching. I hope this is a transformative time for the laity, priests AND bishops. We begin singing Mass of Joy and Peace next weekend.